While most students throw their eggshells and vegetable scraps in the trash can, there are a number of Marist students who dispose of leftover food in compost bins. A new method of composting on campus gives students the unique opportunity to individually compost their own food right in their home.
Composting Program Student Coordinator Katelyn Grano ’21 hauls 10 small white bins into O’Shea’s dormitory. The white bins are specially made compost bins with handles, a lid and instructions for use.
As a member of the Campus Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC), Grano helps implement environmentally conscious initiatives across campus. Grano took on the role of numbering the bins and distributing them to promote sustainability across campus.
“The program is currently mostly in apartments on the north end of the campus,” said Grano. “We didn’t put the compost bins in freshman areas or communal living areas because it’s harder to get people to take the compost out when the bin is full.”
After Grano finds interested students who would like to take part in the composting, Grano gives them a container and notes the number of the container they received. Students then take their leftover fruit, vegetable, or eggshell scraps and place them in the white compost bin instead of a trash can. The composting initiative is overseen by Marist’s Associate Director of physical plant Kim Bodendorf.
“Our passionate composters at Marist College would like to see the program expanded to all townhouses and administrative offices on campus,” said Bodendorf. âOur ultimate goal is to become a zero-waste college.
The product that is used for composting is called Oxo Good Grips compost bin which was created for easy storage on the counter or the floor. The trash can is also specially designed to keep odors out. Due to the lid technology and the material of the container, the compost does not give off any odor and is easy for the students to clean.
âComposting saves money because the university can water less, uses less synthetic chemical fertilizers and reduces the need for very expensive waste disposal,â said Bodendorf. “It reduces our carbon footprint because less methane is emitted in landfills.”
The trash can is also the perfect size for compost bags when students want easy cleaning, but they are not necessary as the trash can be dishwasher or hand washed after each use.
“After the students fill their compost bin, they throw it into the large compost bin at the bottom of the Hoop Lop behind North End,” Grano said. “Once it’s broken down, the soil is taken and put in the garden, in mulch, and really anywhere else it could be used on campus.”
The large compost bin is obtained through aerobic composting. Aerobic composting is the process of making manure compost based on bacteria that thrive in an oxygen-rich environment. The food scraps discarded by the students are ventilated through the bottom of the container, which means that the Marist Grounds crew does not have to turn it by hand.
“I’m interested in sustainability because the earth is an incredible force that includes extremely complex systems, environments and life,” said Bodendorf. “The more careful we are not to ruin or disturb these relationships, the longer we can keep life as we know it.”
Since 2007, CSAC has worked to create sustainable practices on campus for both students and the community as a whole. While the CSAC is also working on other initiatives on campus, composting is one way students can make an individual decision about being more sustainable.
“I am very grateful to be working with Marist students who are very passionate about composting,” said Bodendorf. “Your energetic approach to being the outstanding stewards of our one precious earth is praiseworthy.”
While composting can’t solve every environmental problem on campus or beyond, it can limit the amount of waste Marist generates. With fewer emissions, Marist can contribute to the Hudson Valley community and reduce the impact of unsustainable practices on the earth.